Help Fight Chocolate Extinction!


First the honeybees (and duh, the honey) and now chocolate is on the decline? Say it ain’t so!!

According to this CNN article on the subject of chocolate extinction, “Yields are declining all across the cocoa plantations of West Africa, where two thirds of the world’s supply is grown, as soils are degraded and the area able to support the crop retreats>”

But wait, there’s a solution!

I only eat fair-trade chocolate made from organic cocoa beans- and you should too! Not only does it taste soooooo much better, it prevents the very situation that’s degrading the land where cocoa beans are grown. The deal is that to make money (and cheap chocolate), farmers in Ghana and other chocolate-growing countries have to take down the rainforest and plant cocoa bean plants in unnatural ways. And what happens when you mess with Mother Nature?

The problem is that cocoa is naturally a rainforest plant that grows in shady conditions surrounded by a high biodiversity, but recently hybrid varieties have been grown on cleared land as mono-cultures and in full sun.

While this will give higher short term yields, the soil quickly becomes degraded and the lifespan of plants can be cut from 75 or 100 years, to 30 or less. When the trees die and the land is exhausted the farmers must move on and clear more rainforest to plant cocoa.

No chocolate (horrors!) AND no rainforest (probably worse-no, I admit, definitely worse).

Three of my favorites are pictured above (and don’t forget, dark chocolate is healthier than milk and because it’s vegan, it has a lower carbon footprint), so stick to organic, fair trade dark chocolates, which support healthy growing conditions for cocoa plants- and for the people that farm them.

TRY: Divine Chocolate (from an awesome worker-owned cooperative, this stuff is AMAZING!)
Green and Black’s (crazy yummy flavors like Ginger)
Trader Joe’s house brand (my fave is with pecans and raisins)

Yes, they are more expensive- chocolate is a treat and should be labor-intensive to grow if done properly. So eat less of it, and enjoy it more! Commercial chocolate tastes like wax flavored with old cocoa beans swept off the floor of a Dickensian factory (probably I’m not far off). Hey, if we don’t save the chocolate, think about what’s left!! CAROB. ‘Nuf said.

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.